Tips from a J-Student: Picking up skills and contacts at a professional workshop

Newspaper reporters, editors and others listen to Miami Herald Multimedia Editor Rick Hirsch give opening remarks at Saturday's workshop.


Newspaper reporters, editors and others listen as Miami Herald Multimedia Editor Rick Hirsch gives opening remarks at Saturday's workshop. (From my camera phone, TwitPic)

This is the first in an occasional series called “Tips from a J-Student.” Posts will focus on ways journalism students can better prepare themselves for jobs, internships and other opportunities.

Click here for my Top 10 list of tips.

I know I’ve said this before in some form or another, but (in my Mel Brooks voice):

“It’s good to be a student.”

About 50 newspaper and other media professionals gathered at the University of Miami’s School of Communication on Saturday for a day of online and multimedia training sessions, sponsored by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and Florida Press Association.

For the second consecutive year, Matthew Bunch (@matthewsbunch) and I volunteered for the event. Deborah Acosta (@deborahacosta) a first-year graduate student, also volunteered.

Yes, we helped unload a car. Yes, we helped set up breakfast. Yes, we handed out name tags and programs. 

But why?

Well, there was free breakfast and lunch. More importantly, it was an opportunity to see old friends, meet new people and learn something (sessions were also free for volunteers).

For example, I met University of Florida journalism professor Dave Stanton (@gotoPlanB) after months of hearing about him from former students and Orlando Sentinel senior producer Danny Sanchez (@DannySanchez) after following each on Twitter for awhile.

As for learning something new, I was able to attend a session in each of the three time slots (more details). It just so happened that all of them were led by Miami Herald journalists:

I wish I could have attended all the workshops, but I picked the ones where I thought I would learn the most. 

So what good does this do you?

Find out if your school hosts any professional development events. Most UM journalism students have no idea this opportunity – though limited to a few volunteers – exists at all.

If there’s not such an event, see what you can do to lobby for workshops or some other opportunity to network and learn (somewhat related: a shameless plug for Sean Blanda‘s efforts to bring BarCamp NewsInnovation to Philadelphia). 

But the overall lesson is to take advantage of any available opportunity to improve your skill set, make new connections and continue relationships. And, if that opportunity doesn’t exist, try to make it happen.

Upcoming opportunity: From Jan. 3 to 10, Knight Char in Visual Journalism Rich Beckman will host his annual Beyond Bootcamp workshops at UM for the first time.

Students have the (paid) opportunity to assistant in one of the three-day sessions. I’ll be helping out with the video narratives sessions, Jan. 7 to 10. Of course, I plan to blog about this event.

Looking forward: Several upcoming posts in this series will related to applying for summer internships. Although it’s too late for many summer opportunities, I hope these posts will help students applying in the spring and beyond. 

Weigh in: Have you found any similar training or networking opportunities at your school? If not, what kind would you like to see?

How we did it: Moving The Miami Hurricane from College Publisher to WordPress

This post also appears on the Innovation in College Media blog.

The question we’ve heard most often since launching the new is, “How did you do it?” Below, Webmaster Brian Schlansky offers a comprehensive explanation of the process, from setting up our own Web server to installing WordPress to importing our College Publisher archives.

For more background, check out these posts:


Greg Linch
Editor at Large for Online and Multimedia
Former Editor in Chief (fall 2007 to spring 2008)
The Miami Hurricane

To contact me, visit or e-mail greglinch[at]

Continue reading How we did it: Moving The Miami Hurricane from College Publisher to WordPress

Check out my new digs at WordPress

After more than 10 months of calling Blogger home, The Linchpen has moved to WordPress.

A screenshot of my new WordPress blog, which uses the "WP Premium" theme.
A screenshot of my new WordPress blog.

Oh, the freedom!

I’ve become much more familiar with WordPress since working on The Miami Hurricane‘s beta site with Webmaster Brian Schlansky. My new site is hosted by WebFaction, which I selected after hearing rave reviews on Twitter (thanks to everyone who replied to my question!).

The lovely theme you see here (unless you’re using RSS; in that case, see the photo) is called WP Premium and was designed by R.Bhavesh.

In addition to the standard features, I’ve installed and activated the following plugins (though not all may be in use at the time of posting):

Thanks to Daniel Bachhuber for the idea to list all these on dedicated page so people can easily see what I’m using.

Well, don’t just sit there, explore the new site! If you have any suggestions or find any problems, please contact me.

What’s the best video equipment for a student paper’s first purchase?

(Preface: It’s not about the technology. It’s about the story and how you tell it. Technology is just a tool.)

Kevin Koehler, contributing editor at the Wake Forest Old Gold & Black, asked a question via Twitter Tuesday evening:

kev097 Need to recommend HD camcorder for newspaper today. Probably going with hard drive. Suggestions on models, accessories, research?

Kyle Hansen ( editor at San Jose State), Kevin and I discussed ideas via Twitter and I volunteered to post the equipment The Miami Hurricane plans to purchase before next fall:

  • Canon HV20 a mini-DV, HD video camera (2) [should we get the HV30 instead?]
  • Canon BP2L14 battery (2)
  • Rode shotgun microphone (2)
  • Sennheiser Evolution G2 EW100 wireless mic combo kit (1) [looks like this this has been discontinued from B&H]

    • Includes EW100 G2 Combo System, EW100 G2 Lavalier System, ENG Handheld Microphone, Storage Case and Cables
  • Hosa MIT-156 XLR to mini connector (1)
  • EH 150 supra-aural closed back stereo headphones (2)
  • Sunpak 7001DX tripod (2)
    • Three-way pan/tilt head with quick release
  • Tiffen 43mm UV filter (2)

This year we have primarily used Flip video cameras after starting off with point-and-shoots (Matt Bunch and I). These have worked OK, but the big problem was audio. The best quality videos came when we checked out equipment from the School of Communication.

And I’ve used my HV20, which I bought during spring break, for the paper. For example, a video of the PD press conference after a student died on campus:

(This is the pretty one the assistant multimedia editor, Matt Wallach, edited. Here is the quick-and-dirty version I posted right after the press conference, sans b-roll. I miked the chief with a lav.)

I love my HV20. It’s not perfect, but it does everything I need.

More about video: Newspaper Video – Yahoo! Groups

Weigh in: What video equipment does your organization use? What do you think about The Hurricane’s planned list?

Tips on doing Web video from Ricardo Lopez

Listen below to excerpts of advice Miami Herald visual journalist Ricardo Lopez (left) gave my online journalism class on Feb. 28.

I captured the audio with my Olympus DS-30 using a lav. The photo is from the new media panel during Comm Week. Will Payne, from Current TV, is on the right.